Maine Broadside On The First Shots of the Civil War

Maine Broadside On The First Shots of the Civil War


One broadside, two columns of text. 9-3/8" x 6-3/4" An extracted leaf from the Rockland Gazette, likely printed in early January, 1861. The reports include an account of shots being fired on the Steamer of the West supply ship which was en route with supplies to Fort Sumter. Also recorded is a fight between Senator Robert Toombs (1810-1885) and General Winfield Scott (1786-1866) that began at a dinner party in Washington D.C., and ended with a supposed duel at sunrise, with Toomb shooting Scott through the heart. History tells us that Scott died years later at the West Point Hotel, after retiring.


The broadside article, divided into 4 sections. Some of the broadside are historically accurate while some of it interestingly enough is “fake news”.

Section one: “Charleston, S.C. Jan. 11. The South Carolina Secretaries of War and the State went yesterday to Fort Sumpter under a flag of truce. The fact caused great excitement, and there are all sorts of rumors as to the object of their visit. Nothing certainly is known publicly. The remained for 2 hours. It is believed that their visit is not hostile.”

Section two. “New York, Jan. 11. Steamer Star of the West, arrived this morning. Several shots were fired at her. One took effect in her port bow, the second as she turned to leave the Harbor, on the starboard quarter. One ball passed between the smoke stack and engine beam. The firing continued as she was going to sea, but she received no other damage. She struck twice in crossing the bar. She remained outside of the bar over Wednesday night. She saw steamer coming out and posed they were in pursuit. Extinguished all the lights and was not seen by them. Saw ship Emely from St. Piere of and for Charleston anchored, she had been refused admittance to Charleston harbor in consequence of having the American flag flying. The troops on board the Star of the West are waiting orders from Washington.”

(Historical fact.) On January 9, 1861, a Union merchant ship, the Star of the West, is fired upon as it tries to deliver supplies to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. This incident was the first time shots were exchanged between North and South, although it did not trigger the Civil War. In January 1861, the ship was hired by the government of the United States to transport military supplies and reinforcements to the U.S. military garrison of Fort Sumter. A battery on Morris Island, South Carolina handled by cadets from the South Carolina Military Academy (now The Citadel) fired upon the ship, considered by some scholars to have been effectively the first shots fired in the American Civil War. Although Star of the West suffered no major damage, her captain, John McGowan, considered it to be too dangerous to continue and turned about to leave the harbor. The mission was abandoned, and Star of the West headed for her home port of New York Harbor.

Section 3: “Washington, D.C. Jan. 11. High words passed between Senator Toombs and Gen. Scott at a private dinner party. Mr. Toombs expressed the hope that the people of Charleston would sink the Star of the West. Gen. Scott, with much earnestness asked whether it was possible for Mr. Toombs or any American to desire such an event. Mr. Toombs replied affirmatively and wished those who sent her there could be sunk with her. Gen. Scott said he was responsible for what he said, and Mr. Toombs remarked that he was responsible. It is now said the matter is in the hands of friends.”

(Historical fact):  “At a dinner party in Washington a few hours after the Star slunk out of Charleston harbor, Senator Robert Toombs of Georgia, highly respected but recognized as a bit of a tippler, was heard to say that the ship had been sunk, and that he only wished those who sent her had been on her at the time. General Scott was at this dinner and quite rightfully took offense, since it was obvious to everyone in the room that Toombs was referring to him, and perhaps the president. Scott responded sharply. Toombs sassed him back. The elderly, corpulent general rose to his swollen feet and waddled toward the equally heavyset Toombs. The two were forcefully separated.” (Source – History Anecdotes)

Section four: “Washington, Jan. 12. The friends of Scott and Toombs could not settle the difficulty arising from the insulting language of the latter, they fought this morning at sun rise. Gen. Scott fired into the air, but his adversary's ball passed through his HEART, KILLING HIM INSTANTLY! Most intense excitement.

(Historical fact): The events of section four NEVER HAPPENED.

Robert Augustus Toombs


The selection of Jefferson Davis as the new nation's chief executive dashed Toombs's hopes of holding the high office of the fledgling Confederacy. He was rejected because of what Confederate leaders knew to be his serious drinking problem. Toombs had no diplomatic skills but Davis chose him as the Secretary of State. Toombs was the only member of Davis' administration to express dissent about the Confederacy's attack on Fort Sumter.

After reading Lincoln's letter to the governor of South Carolina, Toombs said to Davis:

"Mr. President, at this time it is suicide, murder, and will lose us every friend at the North. You will wantonly strike a hornet's nest which extends from mountain to ocean, and legions now quiet will swarm out and sting us to death. It is unnecessary; it puts us in the wrong; it is fatal."

Within months of his cabinet appointment, a frustrated Toombs resigned to join the Confederate States Army. He was commissioned as a brigadier general on July 19, 1861, and served first as a brigade commander in the Confederate Army of the Potomac, and then in David R. Jones’ division of the Army of Northern Virginia. He commanded troops through the Peninsula Campaign, Seven Days Battles, Northern Virginia Campaign and Maryland Campaign. He was wounded in the hand at the Battle of Antietam, where he commanded the heroic defense of Burnside’s Bridge.

Toombs died on December 15, 1885 at Washington, Georgia. (Source: California Digital Newspapeer Collection Vol. 39, Number 13060, 16 December 1885)

(Historical fact): Winfield Scott

Despite being a Virginia native, Scott stayed loyal to the Union and served as an important adviser to President Abraham Lincoln during the opening stages of the Civil War. He developed a strategy known as the Anaconda Plan, but retired in late 1861 after Lincoln increasingly relied on General George B. McClellan for military advice and leadership. In retirement, he lived in West Point, New York, where he died on May 29, 1866. Scott's military talent was highly regarded by contemporaries, and historians generally consider him to be one of the most accomplished generals in U.S. history.

A bit of historically correct and a bit of FAKE NEWS! A unique and unrecorded bit of Civil War history. A good copy, foxed with some chips at the edges and some fold tears, none of which obscure the text. 



$ 1,995.00
# 2669